International Cooperation and National Security

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In “Anarchy is What States Make of It” Alexander Wendt describes two opposing state systems—competitive and cooperative. In competition, “states identify negatively with each other’s security so that ego’s gain is seen as alter’s loss.” In cooperation, “the security of each [state] is perceived as the responsibility of all.” Currently, there are problems such as the spread of nuclear weapons, terrorism, poverty in developing countries, international financial instability, and climate change that confront the entire global community. Ideally states could cooperate in order to solve all of these dilemmas in the next twenty years. Realistically, they will only solve problems with specific and easily stated solutions. Cooperation tends to trip over every possible stumbling block, and simple solutions are necessary in order to clearly define a problem, evaluate the costs and benefits, and allow states to reach a consensus. Simplicity may require fewer actors; some problems would be better off solved within a state or bilaterally. The two fields that I believe best demonstrate the necessity of keeping it simple are terrorism and global financial stability. Terrorism would be over if governments could infiltrate and break up terrorists’ networks and if a nation’s defense was impermeable. While it may be impossible to guarantee complete safety, states understand what needs to be done in order to try. No one has yet found an acceptable method for keeping markets afloat. Paul Krugman and Milton Friedman could both win the Nobel Prize in Economics by giving the opposite answer about protectionism. When Mexico took the advice of the International Monetary Fund and “sharply reduced their budget deficits, privatized state-owned en... ... middle of paper ... ...es may work best one on one. The most successful developing countries, such as Singapore and Taiwan did not use the international community in any way besides as trading partners, and benefitted from governmental reforms. Opening to trade and fixing government are both choices a country makes internally. Complexity is anathema to international cooperation. Since there is no enforcement mechanism for states to get along, coalitions fall apart at every fork in the road. Strong groups need simple tasks and common motivations. Ensuring safety from terrorists and nuclear weapons seems to have a lot more draw than sacrificing industry for the environment, or relative gains for economic success. This is not to say that nothing will be done to confront every major global issue. When trying to save the world, though, it might be best to keep countries out of it.

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